Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden was founder of the Tibetan Buddhist Society and spiritual leader until his passing in August 2011. He continuously addressed the needs of the world in the spheres of Buddhism, religion generally, community leadership, environment, national development and international issues.
Drawing from his nine internationally acclaimed books, used as the basis for the propagation of his teachings, Geshe-la asked that Buddhists embrace non-violence, freedom and peace. With the deepest respect he appealed to all the great religious traditions of the world to take common values – love, compassion and charity – as the basis for harmony. He wanted all leaders – religious, political, business or communal – to be wise, well intended and, above all, honest! We have great examples to follow in this in Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
In the face of climate change, Geshe-la promoted care for the environment through the use of clean energy – solar, wind or hydro – and a water strategy including recycling: the means used for the care of the Tibetan Buddhist Society gardens.
Geshe-la wanted the nations of the world to move away from the destruction and senseless waste of human life resulting from military interventions. He prayed for the end of any military occupation, from the Gaza to Tibet, so that every person may enjoy the type of freedom that we have in Australia.
Geshe Loden’s contribution to Victoria and the Australian community was recognised by his inclusion in the inaugural edition of ‘Who’s Who in Victoria’ in 2008.
Born in 1924, Geshe-la became a monk when he was seven. Trained with a discipline and dedication that may never be seen again in our world, he embodied an unbroken lineage of the Buddhist teachings dating back to the Buddha himself.
Geshe Loden received his full training at Sera Je Monastery in Tibet when it was one of the three great monasteries in the world. In 1959, China’s invasion of Tibet meant the end of many monasteries, and along with many other Tibetans, Geshe-la escaped on foot to India to continue his practice and studies.
Geshe Loden was one of the few Dharma teachers in the world to attain the highest level of proficiency in all the major spheres of Buddhist thought. He held the highest possible degree of Geshe Lharampa, a Master’s degree in Vajrayana Buddhism and an Acharya (Master’s) degree from Varanasi Sanskrit University in India.
Coming to Australia
After he came to Australia to teach in 1976 Geshe-la presented meditation and lecture courses and vajrayana teachings to thousands of students, including subjects never taught here before.
Geshe-la founded the Tibetan Buddhist Society in 1979. The sacred temple and tranquil gardens of the Peaceful Land of Joy Meditation Centre in Melbourne reflect his gratitude for the support and shelter he enjoyed in Australia for more than 30 years.
Geshe Loden said he felt his life had three major achievements:
– to have studied and practised thoroughly and with great energy through many hardships to become a Lharampa Geshe
– to have constructed a traditional Tibetan temple in Australia, and
– to have authored eight Dharma books and a prayer book.
He rejoiced in his actions after coming to Australia as a refugee – when he had little money or English – by thinking of the great benefit to other living beings.
For many years I have eaten Australian food, drunk Australian water, had shelter and conditions provided by the Australian people. My activities are to repay the kindness of the Australian people.